Wicked World Scaregrounds (2022 Review)
Wicked World Scaregrounds 5817 Tates Creek Rd. Nicholasville, KY 40356 http://www.wickedworldscaregrounds.com
Date of Visit: 10/27/22 Reviewer: Lindsay
Taking a walk through the woods at night can be a spooky experience in itself, especially this time of year. But the ones I chose to enter on this particular evening have proven to be an entirely different beast. Over the course of one night, I've been plunged into a young girl's nightmares, battled my way through hordes of zombies inside a military bunker, and crossed the barrier between the living and the dead - all while doing my best to avoid prematurely joining those on "the other side".
At this point you may be wondering, 'where on earth did this crazy lady run off to now?' Truth is, the place I'm at is no ordinary spot in the woods. I'm spending another night visiting Wicked World Scaregrounds, a multi-attraction "scream park" haunt hidden away within the forests of Nicholasville, Kentucky.
Curious and want to check this place out for yourself? General admission combo tickets start at $28 (+tax), and include admission to all of the park's attractions. If it's crowded when you arrive, a Fast Pass upgrade is available as well. Wondering where to park? Worry not - there's plenty of room available in their big field, the parking is free, and attendants will be on hand to direct you to an open space.
Once you head out of the wooded parking lot and through the front gate, Wicked World's atmosphere feels very close to that of a carnival. Strings of lights hang over the square, and fun Halloween decorations, more ambient lighting, and other neat effects help to make the property come alive. The scent of delicious fair foods wafts from a food truck near the entrance. DJ Crankenstein is on hand every night, pumping out upbeat tunes, and holding contests on the busier nights (like having a dance off, or seeing which customer can scream the loudest!). Characters also roam to entertain the crowd; on my visit, I spotted Dr. Drizz, the slider Lilith, and fan favorite Noodles the Clown. (Shout out to Noodles - my first scare went to him with an unexpected chainsaw attack!)
When you're ready to start your journey through this wicked world, your first stop is going to be NIGHTMARE HAUNTED HOUSE. Every attraction at the Scaregrounds has a story behind it, and Nightmare tells that of Sarah Johnson, a young girl with a troubled home life who is plagued by nightmares. Over time, her terrible visions have taken on a life of their own, and begun to consume both her home and the town she lives in. If I had to name the darkest themed attraction in the park, this is the one. The first handful of scenes you walk through take you through Sarah's house, but it quickly becomes apparent something went horribly wrong here... as evidenced by the smears of blood, wet handprints, and disturbing things written on the walls and mirrors. Eventually, you'll find yourself exploring a bit of her hometown, browsing the local meat counter, a creepy toy shop, and a mortuary, among other rooms. Squeezing through inflatable walls serves as the "portal" to an even darker part of Sarah's world, which includes a home under otherworldly possession, a boiler room with glowing furnaces, a rather gruesome scene with several carved up victims (and one hanging from the ceiling), and the lair of a monster known as Father Time, where an impressive number of clocks cover the walls.
This attraction was running with a noticeably smaller cast when I came through, though to be fair, it was a slower night (Thursday). We also had a conga line form around the second half, which killed some of the scares. With all of that said, Nightmare is one of the scarier haunts at Wicked World, and it definitely had its moments! Early on, I was followed by a blind girl with bandages wrapped around her eyes, accusing me of hurting/killing Sarah (wha?!). The gruff butcher in the chop shop was a touch sadistic, stalking and scaring me more than once and mocking my fearful reactions. I also loved the priest with the huge, hideous grin and cross seared into his forehead in the possessed house. "Father Time loves long hair! I'm sure he'll give you a nice chop," he sneered after me. Yeah, I'm sure he will, and probably take my head along with it.
ENVIRONMENT: 8 / ACTING: 7 / SCARE FACTOR: 8 / OVERALL: 8
Having successfully escaped from Sarah's nightmares, it was time for some good old fashioned zombie slaying. THE HUNTED takes place in a military facility that's become overrun with hordes of the infected - and it's up to you and your group to clear them out. Armed with high tech laser rifles, you've got only one objective: get in there, remember to aim for the head, and try to make it out alive!
Prior to my visit, I was hearing reports that Wicked World gave this house some serious love for 2022. All I can say is WOW... they were exactly right! Loads of toxic waste scenery has been added throughout the haunt, and some of the more bland hallways were themed up and given new attack points for its zombie cast to strike from. My favorite new addition had to be the group of zombies rising out of a glowing fluorescent green pool of radioactive sludge. So freakin' cool!
My one complaint with The Hunted this time was a lack of live zombies, but again, I was there on a slower night, and they still had plenty of static and animatronic zeds to zap. And the actors who were working had many, many unexpected places to sneakily reanimate and attack you, over and over again. Some of them came at us so hard we nearly collided with each other! Love that energy!
ENVIRONMENT: 9 / ACTING: 6 / SCARE FACTOR: 8 / OVERALL: 8
After surviving my battle against the undead, there was one last destination remaining on my adventure. It was only a short walk away, though I paused to watch the sliders- now joined by Blueberry the Clown- do some tricks for the line, and grab a photo with my blue clown friend before it was time to move along. The helpful worker outside advised me to make for the unassuming gas station that lay ahead, speak with the mechanic, Earl, and ask him for help with getting to "the other side". Proceeding with caution, my fingers closed around the creaky wooden door and carefully tugged it open...
Your journey through the Scaregrounds ends with VALLEY OF THE DEAD, their signature haunted trail and the haunt's longest attraction. Earl, the owner of Earl's Pump 'n Go, claims to have the ability to transcend the realms of both the living and the deceased. He can help you get there, too, if you ask... but can you really trust him? (Shout out to this actor: he's always been talented, but something in the way he played out the opening scene this year made it feel very real.) It's worth noting that this haunt allows their actors some liberty in developing their characters, and I didn't miss that Earl was sporting a slightly... demonic?... new look. (Was that a horn growing out of his head? Maybe I was seeing things.)
Although it has Earl's story to tie it all together, Valley of the Dead doesn't follow a single theme, with scenes full of many different things to scare groups. A foggy portal completes the transition to the other side (love this!), and leads into the incredibly detailed home of Mama JuJu, where you're hit with the smell of incense upon entering. Stumbling across a small hotel, I thought I might've found some safety, but the only open room was full of creepy dolls! No thanks! Other areas include a graveyard with several animatronic ghouls, the butcher shack of a redneck family (you best knock before entering!), an impressive ghost town, and the frightfully fun Darkwood Carnival at the end!
There weren't many changes to the trail's sets this year, but I was delighted to encounter a few new characters. The black horned demon guarding the portal gave me quite a shock when they emerged in front of me. I really enjoyed the hillbilly ladies working their shack; two funny and interactive actors. (Small gripe: I know there's a scare in that scene. Why does the actor always skip me? Sad face.) The undead cowboy in the town gave me a really good startle when I mistakenly thought he was a prop, and upon saying so, his castmate's comment was hilarious: "At least you didn't call him a DUMMY." In the jail, the prisoner also made me laugh with her frantic protests of "I didn't do it! ... They'll never find the body!" And the carnival's clowns remain among the craziest crew in the park. One of their new characters, Jekyll, was intimidatingly tall and pretty scary looking. It was good to be reunited with an old friend, Dinko, whom I hadn't seen for the last two seasons... though I wasn't quite as thrilled with their threat of "Maybe I'll break your jaw and shove my diarrhea down your throat..." "*What* did you just say to me?! ... DINKO." I was glad to see their final clown, Jazper, had returned to the carnival as well - though I could've done without him chasing me allllll the way to the fire pit out front, chainsaw roaring into the night. Well, he did tell me once that he loves a good chase... and I guess it's my fault for indulging him.
ENVIRONMENT: 8 / ACTING: 9 / SCARE FACTOR: 7 / OVERALL: 8
With the haunt only open for two hours, there wasn't time left for a lot else by the time I completed all three attractions. (I did manage to grab a bite at their awesome food truck - this haunt has the best grub!) But in addition to music, food, haunts, and a fire pit, I believe the park has some escape rooms as well, and a merch counter selling a crazy variety of souvenirs (how many other haunts offer prints of their characters?!).
Wicked World Scaregrounds is a one-of-a-kind haunt, and I do my best to hit them up every season. They have a neat location, three awesome attractions, and enough going on to easily spend a night there. (I would like to see them branch out in the near future to add more extra activities, or even a fourth haunt, space allowing - but what they've currently got works very well.) Best of all, this scream park is one of the most original haunts you can find in Kentucky. Other than their "Nightmares of Hollywood" movie event over the off season, you won't find any familiar characters stalking these grounds - just killer clowns, living nightmares, and an army of undead. If you love haunted attractions and you're looking for something completely different, venture off into the woods of Nicholasville and check out this wicked world for yourself.
ENVIRONMENT: 8/10 - Fun atmosphere in the park, nicely designed sets in all three attractions. Hoping to see this place branch out even more soon!
ACTING: 8/10 - Wicked World has a talented cast every season and 2022 was no exception. Solid!
SCARE FACTOR: 8/10 - Lots of good startles and creepy moments across all three attractions.
OVERALL: 8/10 - Very good and well rounded visit to the Scaregrounds - especially considering I was there on a slower night!